Natan and the Jewish Book Council are thrilled to announce the Spring 2023 Natan Notable Book: The Land of Hope and Fear: Israel’s Battle for Its Inner Soul by Isabel Kershner (Alfred A. Knopf, May 2023).
Twice a year, Natan Notable Books recognizes recently published or about-to-be-published non-fiction books that promise to catalyze conversations aligned with the themes of Natan’s grantmaking: reinventing Jewish life and community for the twenty-first century, shifting notions of individual and collective Jewish identity, the history and future of Israel, understanding and confronting contemporary forms of antisemitism, and the evolving relationship between Israel and world Jewry.
In The Land of Hope and Fear, Kershner reflects on both the history and future of the state of Israel by delving into the present and illuminating what is and always has been the soul of Israel: its people. In chapters that take the reader into villages and cities and right up to the doorstep of Israelis of all kinds – Jews, Arabs, religious and secular, on the political left and right – Kershner uses her many years as a journalist to bring out the stories that shape the Israeli narrative. As Israel struggles with both external and internal conflicts and divisions, all too often we see headlines and news features that deliver a monolithic pronouncement on “the Israelis”. Kershner understands the need for a nuanced portrayal that seeks to answer the question: who are Israelis and what do they aspire to?
With the celebrations and considerations around Israel’s 75th anniversary and the current political situations, the Natan Notable Books judges were impressed with Kershner’s ability to capture the passion, drive and dedication that have both catapulted Israelis forward and locked them into webs of turmoil. Alex Katz, one of the judges, commented “The Land of Hope and Fear details the bitter civil war for the future of Israel’s soul. Seventy-five years after the birth of modern Israel, Isabel Kershner’s book illustrates how the political and social conflicts that shaped the nation’s founding have persisted, if not deepened. Kershner builds upon President Reuven Rivlin’s 2015 ‘Four Tribes’ speech with vivid portraits of life in Israel’s fractured society. In a crowded landscape of writing about Israel, Kershner’s new book is an essential contribution. The Land of Hope and Fear is a worthy winner of Natan Notable Book recognition, as it will spark critical conversation about the history and future of Israel.”
The author will receive a $5,000 cash prize, as well as customized support for promoting the book and its ideas, drawing on Natan’s and Jewish Book Council’s extensive networks throughout the Jewish philanthropic and communal worlds.
For those interested in submitting a recent or soon-to-come non-fiction title, the deadline for submission for Fall 2023 Natan Notable Books is October 2, 2023. Titles must have a publication date between April 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024. Inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the award and eligibility or to submit a title, go to https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/awards/natan-notable-books.
Natan Notable Books at the Jewish Book Council has previously been awarded to Bari Weiss’ How to Fight Anti-Semitism (2019), Susie Linfield’s The Lion’s Den (2019), Ilan Stavans’ The Seventh Heaven (2020), Nancy Sinkoff’s From Left to Right (2020), Dara Horn’s People Love Dead Jews (2021), Michael Frank’s One Hundred Saturdays: Stella Levi and the Search for a Lost World (2022), and Feeding Women of the Talmud, Feeding Ourselves: Uplifting the Voices of Talmudic Heroines and Honoring Them with Simple, Vegan Recipes edited by Kenden Alfond (2022). Natan Notable Books is an evolution of the Natan Book Award, which was previously awarded to Matti Friedman’s Spies of No Country (2018) and Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land (2013).
Natan catalyzes emerging philanthropists to become actively engaged in building the Jewish future by giving collaboratively to cutting-edge initiatives in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world, and by building an interconnected community of givers through grantmaking, events and other programs. Natan believes that engaged and entrepreneurial philanthropy can transform givers, grant recipients, and the fields in which Natan invests.
About Jewish Book Council
Jewish Book Council is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating, enriching, and strengthening the Jewish community through Jewish interest literature. With over 270 touring authors each year; over 2,500 book clubs; 1,400 events; its annual print publication, Paper Brigade; the National Jewish Book Awards; Natan Notable Books; its popular literary series Unpacking the Book: Jewish Writers in conversation; and a vibrant digital presence, JBC ensures that Jewish-interest authors have a platform, and that readers are able to find these books and have the tools to discuss them with their community.